Boerum Hill/ Gowanus

The Michael Jackson shopping tour of Brooklyn

Photos by Betony Toht
West Point uniforms with MJ-worthy styling. Photos by Betony Toht

The weekend’s endless loop of Michael Jackson videos inspired all kinds of reactions: sadness, nostalgia, fashion envy. Like his music, his trademark silhouette—boxy jacket with slim high-waters and white socks—is surely destined for a revival, or at least worthy of one. So for those who wish to honor the singer’s memory with an appropriately dressed moonwalk, where to look?

My first stop is the Carroll Gardens vintage shop 2 Silhouettes on the Shade (482 Court St., 718-858-9229). I have often seen the owners, Janet and Michael Marcus, sitting in lawn chairs outside the store, and I now I know why—it is so jam-packed with merchandise that they can’t fit inside. I burrow into the back and come across a stack of Isotoner fedoras ($12 each) alongside a rack of uniform jackets ($35-75). The epaulettes and brass buttons are pure Michael. Too bad they don’t come in black.

Off I go to the Baltic Bazaar (141 Atlantic Ave., 718-858-2900), a thrift shop that stocks fabrics and trims. I tell the clerk about my quest. “Oh, God bless you,” she says and helps me dig up spools of braid ($1-3 a yard). “I wish I’d brought my sparkly glove today,” she jokes. You and me both, sister.

Trimmings at Baltic Bazaar.
Trimmings at Baltic Bazaar.

I walk up to the Fulton Street Mall. A street vendor is playing the Jackson Five while selling bootleg CDs and glossy photographs. The black market hasn’t yet produced anything in the apparel area, so I drop by ABC Superstore, (427 Fulton St., 718-522-5142‎) hoping to find some bargain-basement black jeans. There are none, but I discover 3-packs of irregular white t-shirts for $3.50—perfect for ripping open in front of a wind machine.

As I work my way through the mall, I am caught up in a continuous soundtrack of Michael music—all the stores seem to be playing the same radio marathon. “Is that another Michael Jackson song?” I hear one woman ask. “Man, he had a lot of songs.” Despite the promising atmosphere, I’m coming up empty—I’m starting to wish the King of Pop had favored nylon halter tops and poom-poom shorts. At Rainbow (493 Fulton St., 718-858-3771) the trend gods are finally on my side and I find a rack of Bad-esque studded belts ($6.95 each).

Belts at Rainbow.
Belts at Rainbow.

My shopping stamina is lagging, but I’ve just been reading about Michael’s legendary 12-hour rehearsals and so I push on to Williamsburg in search of ‘80s gear. I ask the clerk in a high-end vintage shop if anyone has asked for Michael Jackson-style goods. “No, do you think they will?” she asks quizzically, then adds, “Actually, my friend was rocking a full-on red leather jacket last night.” She directs me to Vice Versa (241 Bedford Ave., 718-782-8847) to find something similar. Jackpot! They have racks of motorcycle jackets and even some red leather numbers for $30 each. Again, I ask the clerks if anyone has been looking for MJ stuff. “No, do you think they will?” one of them asks.

Red leather jackets at Vice Versa, $30.
Red leather jackets at Vice Versa, $30.

Glove-wise, my six hours of shopping on Saturday did not unearth so much as an exfoliation mitt, so in the morning I Google costume shops. On my walk over to the Party City at the Atlantic Center (625 Atlantic Ave., 718-399-7252), I spy a girl wearing rolled up jeans, white socks and black loafers—could this be a good omen? Sadly, no. Party City has black gloves and lace gloves in abundance, but no adult white ones (And what, pray tell, is a Slutty Minnie Mouse supposed to wear?). I do find spats ($6.95) and a promisingly named Pop King Jacket ($39), which, based on the ample supply on the racks, does not seem to be in high demand.

On to Old Navy (139 Flatbush Ave. & Atlantic Ave., 718-636-5110) to find some high-waters. The first thing I spot on my way in is a mannequin wearing pitch-black skinny jeans. Unfortunately, there’s only one pair left on the display. I dig up some bootcut pairs and discover in the fitting room that the store’s vanity sizing has me in a 4, a number that hasn’t been on my waistband since Dangerous was on the charts. I’m understanding why the jeans are sold out.

Still, they aren’t what I am looking for, so I head to the third floor of the Atlantic Center and spy Pay/Half (625 Atlantic Ave., 718-399-0563)—what is this treasure? I immediately find some perfect black treggings (trouser leggings) and red jeans (very Victory Tour). The fitting rooms are closed, but it is clear from the sweat stains I find on the stash of bras that the store has a generous return policy, so I snap up a pair of each in a size 9 (Pay/Half hasn’t heard that I’m a size 4.)

Finally, high-waters in hand, I return to 2 Silhouettes on the Shade hoping that my old friends can help me with the glove situation. Sadly, all we come up with is a pair of elbow-length ladies’ gloves. I buy them, along with a fedora, planning a future D.I.Y. project.

Back at 2 Silhouettes, Fedoras
Back at 2 Silhouettes, Fedoras

At home, I try on my get-up and discover that the pared-down MJ look is sort of working. Though I also sort of look like Debbie Gibson during the Electric Youth era, I am even more convinced that the King of Pop is fashion’s next muse. You just know that Karl Lagerfeld is listening to Off the Wall on his iPod right now and planning a $3,000 Chanel glove. Give me a few days and I’ll make you one for $30.

Photo by Ben Toht
Photo by Ben Toht.


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